Improving Resilience and Equity in Cancer Screening: Innovations to Increase Screening


February 11, 2021

Cancer screening has potential to reduce the burden of cancer through early diagnosis and, in some cases prevention, of cancer. The President’s Cancer Panel has determined that suboptimal implementation of cancer screening—evident prior to COVID-19 and significantly amplified during the pandemic—is a critical issue facing the National Cancer Program. The 2020–2021 series of Panel meetings focused on opportunities to improve the resilience and equity of cancer screening. In fall 2020, four meetings were held to discuss barriers and opportunities related to lung, colorectal, cervical, and breast cancer. The last meeting in the series—held virtually on February 11, 2021—brought together stakeholders from advocacy and community organizations, technology companies, media outlets, healthcare systems, insurance companies, academic institutions, and government agencies to discuss innovations to improve cancer screening in three areas—public health and community engagement; electronic health records (EHRs), data sharing, and professional training; and telehealth, remote care, and insurance.

Public health and community engagement. Participants emphasized the need to work with partners within communities and train them as needed to serve as ambassadors for health and cancer screening. Diversity within communities necessitates multipronged, flexible strategies. Trusted sites—like libraries, barber shops, and churches—and preferred communication outlets (e.g., radio) can help with delivery of messages. Messages should be consistent and persistent and clearly define actions to be taken. There are opportunities to create linkages between research and health institutions (e.g., National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers) and local organizations.

EHRs, data sharing, and professional training. Technological advances provide opportunity to enhance patient engagement with health information and systems, facilitate provider workflows, and support learning healthcare systems to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time. In many cases, technology is best used to inform and support—not replace—person-to-person interactions. Limited use of standardized taxonomies and structured data and lack of interoperability currently impede data sharing and optimal application of technology to support patient care. Collaborations among technology developers, domain experts, and educators can help ensure that tools are robust and usable.

Telehealth, remote care, and insurance. Telehealth and remote care have potential to enhance patient access to high-quality care; however, effective application depends on access to technology and broadband. Innovative payment models and reimbursement policies were discussed as strategies to promote remote care and incentivize patient completion of screening and recommended follow-up care. Also, many providers would benefit from training to optimize telehealth visits.

The President’s Cancer Panel will consider input and proposed recommendations from this workshop and previous workshops in this series. Findings and recommendations from the series will be presented in the Panel’s 2021 Report to the President of the United States.

Meeting Outcomes

  • Identified opportunities to accelerate cancer screening through innovation

Meeting Summary

Meeting Recording